Many project managers will confirm that the most successful projects start with the planning phase which determines how to kick off a project successfully.
Having a solid base for launching the project allows you to manage everything much more easily.
In this article we will therefore explain how to kick off a project successfully, setting the right expectations.
What is the project launch phase?
Whatever methodology or process you choose, every project has to start somewhere. Any type of project is generally made up of five steps:
- monitoring and control
The start-up phase is therefore the first phase, i.e. the one where the project is started both with the team and with the stakeholders.
Here all the information held is collected in order to set up and define the scope, time scales and costs of the project.
How to kick off a project
A good practice for kicking off a project successfully is to examine what needs to be outlined for the project in three areas: people, processes and product.
These three factors are key for any project. Let’s look at them in more detail.
How to kick off a project: The People
Setting up the team
In the start-up phase of the project, you need to define and set up the team. Starting from the final results you want to achieve, you can establish what kind of team will be needed. What skills will be really important for bringing the activities to a successful conclusion? How long will resources need to be involved to deliver the results on time? Therefore check the availability of people and ensure that they will be available to work on the project.
Involving the team
It is worthwhile preceding any kick-off with the customer with an internal kick-off session. This helps to get the project team involved right from the start. The best way to successfully start a project is to clearly set and manage expectations in advance. Some areas to discuss during the kick-off meeting with the team include the following:
- How does the team want to work?
- How and when should the team receive feedback from stakeholders?
- How does the team wish to communicate with stakeholders?
- What regular meetings are needed internally?
Also as part of the project kick-off, it is important to outline and define stakeholder involvement. Whether they are customers or internal stakeholders, it is really necessary to clarify who is going to be carrying out what activities.
Kick-off with stakeholders
After holding the first internal kick-off, the time comes to meet with stakeholders. Here are some points to address during this meeting:
- Roles and responsibilities
- End products
Once the resources involved in the project have been defined, in the planning phase, it will be important to assign their role phase by phase so that they easily know where to work and when and with what responsibilities.
Manage your resources easily
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How to kick off a project: Processes
It is important to define the processes of the project at the beginning so that the project manager and the team have clear boundaries to follow. It is important to avoid getting lost in overly complicated processes because it is the quickest way to kill a team’s enthusiasm. There are some key areas to define when starting a project:
There should not be a pre-established methodology in a company, but by examining the project, from time to time, it would be better to choose the one that best suits the achievement of the objectives. The result could also be a mix of different methodologies. The following questions can help you choose:
- How big is the project?
- How fixed is the scope, timing and budget?
- How is the team structured?
- How does the customer currently work?
The tool chosen by a company for project management can really make a difference. There are several points to take into consideration, also considering what we have just seen: the tool should be flexible and allow the management of multiple methodologies, it should be able to manage different roles, offering each one specific functionality. A project management software, in fact, works if all team members use it.
In addition to this, there are many fundamental features that cannot be missing:
- Resource planning and management (workload management and timesheet)
- Timeframe planning and management (interactive Gantt chart)
- Task management
- Project monitoring
- Project analysis
Twproject combines all these needs into one tool.
How to kick off a project: The Product
We come to the third key area to kick off a project properly: the product, i.e. what you want to create through the project. Here are the factors to consider in this case:
Requirements & Scope
What are the project requirements? What are the needs to which the product has to meet?
Once the requirements have been identified it is necessary to put some perimeters around them: the project scope.
How do you determine whether the project has been successful or not? Don’t forget that you need measurement to understand whether the product meets the requirements or not and to review and understand where things worked or didn’t work. In this case, areas such as:
- Core KPIs, e.g. increasing visitors to a website
- Customer satisfaction, i.e. how happy was the customer with how the project went?
- Team satisfaction, i.e. how happy was the team with how the project went?
- Variance in timeframe
- Budget variance
If the processes for the project are established from the beginning and these are followed step by step, some common mistakes can be avoided.
From the estimation to the allocation of resources, from the scope to the definition of requirements, from the team briefing to the all-important first meeting with the customer – there are many activities that fall into the start-up phase of a project.
However it happens, a well-organised project kick-off is crucial for its future success.
However, this does not have to be as stressful and complicated as many may think. With the tips given in this article, a project can be started successfully and achieve optimum results.